Gaza ceasefire extended by 24 hours

Monday 18 August 2014 23.53
1 of 2
The deal was confirmed minutes before a five-day ceasefire was due to expire
The deal was confirmed minutes before a five-day ceasefire was due to expire
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a funeral for three abducted teens
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a funeral for three abducted teens

Israeli and Palestinian officials have agreed to extend a Gaza ceasefire by another 24 hours to allow time for the sides to continue negotiations for terms of a possible agreement.             

The deal was confirmed in Cairo and then Jerusalem minutes before a five-day ceasefire was due to expire.

Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmad said the extension would give both sides time "to complete the negotiations".          

Agreement was reached as gaps on key issues continued to dog efforts to achieve a long-term deal between Israel and militant groups in the Gaza Strip, dominated by Hamas Islamists, which would allow reconstruction aid to flow in after five weeks of fighting. 

Earlier today, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said 2,016 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in the conflict.

On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

Israeli troops demolish suspects homes 

This morning Israeli troops demolished the homes of two Palestinians it suspects of the abduction and killing of three teenagers in the occupied West Bank in June, the army said.

Troops set charges to destroy the homes of Hussam Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha in the southern West Bank before dawn and sealed off the home of a third suspect, Marwan Kawasme, the army said.

Israel accuses Hamas Islamist militants of the abduction and killing of Jewish seminary students Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah, who went missing on 12 June and were discovered dead a couple of weeks later in the West Bank.

Hamas has neither confirmed nor denied the accusations.

Hussam Kawasme, a 40-year-old resident of Hebron, was arrested on 11 July but the other two suspects remained at large, the army said.

The killings set off a cycle of violence that led to a month-long offensive between Israel and militants in Hamas-dominated Gaza.

Israel carried out air strikes and a ground offensive in the enclave to counter militant rocket fire and to blow up a network of tunnels dug under the border to infiltrate the Jewish state.

Hussam Kawasme's arrest was made public for the first time earlier this month in a document from a court case over whether houses belonging to him and two other suspects should be destroyed as a punitive measure.

It said Mr Kawasme had admitted helping to organise the kidnapping, securing funding from Hamas and buying weapons which he passed on to the two suspected of carrying out the attack.

He also helped to bury the bodies of the teenagers in a plot of land he had bought a few months earlier, it said.

The military statement said Israel's supreme court had affirmed the military's wish to demolish the homes and had rejected three appeals by the suspects' families against their destruction.

Keywords: gaza, israel